Message Content in Marketing Communications


Message content deals with what is said in a message and how it is said. There are five common content topics that have great relevance for marketing practitioners: 1) fear appeals; 2) the use of humor; 3) the role of music; 4) sex appeals; and 5) subliminal messages. Advertisers, salespersons, public relations spokespersons, and other marketing communicators use all of these message styles to varying degrees in hopes of gaining attention, achieving impact, and ultimately producing sales.

Fear Appeals: Companies sometimes use fear appeals in attempting to motivate customers to action. The underlying logic when using fear appeals is that fear will stimulate audience involvement with a message and thereby promote acceptance of message arguments. The appeals may take the form of social disapproval or physical danger aside from the basic ethical issue of whether fear should be used at all, the fundamental issue for marketing communicators is determining how intense the fear presentation should be. Numerous fear-appeal studies have been performed by psychologists and marketing researchers, but the fact remains that there still is no consensus on the “optimum” level of fear. Some Neither extremely strong nor very weak fear appeals are maximally effective. It seems that appeals at a somewhat moderate level of fear are best.

Humor: Politicians, actors and actresses, after-dinner speakers, professors, and indeed all of us at one time or another use humor to create a desired reaction. Salespeople and advertisers also turn to humor in the hopes of achieving various communication objectives. Whether humor is effective and what kinds of humor are most successful are matters of some debate among marketing communications practitioners and scholars.

Despite the frequent use of humor in advertising, relatively little is known in a definitive scientific sense about its effects on customer behavior. However there are some generalizations:

  • Humorous messages attract attention.
  • Humor can inhibit consumers’ understanding of the intended meaning of a message.
  • Because humor is a pleasant form of distraction, it can produce an increase in persuasion by effectively “disarming” receivers’ natural selective perception and reducing their tendencies toward counter arguing with persuasive selling claims.
  • Humor tends to enhance source credibility, thereby improving the persuasive impact of an ad message.
  • A humorous context may increase liking for the source and create a positive mood, thereby enhancing the persuasive effect of the message.
  • To the extent that a humorous context functions as a positive reinforce, a persuasive communication placed in such a context may be more effective.
  • The effects of humor can differ due to differences in audience characteristics. Advertisers must use humor carefully since consumers display a variety of tastes in what is humorous and what is not.

Music: celebrated musicians, as well as, non-vocal accompaniment and unknown vocalists are used extensively in promoting everything. Music performs useful communication functions such as attracting attention, putting consumers in a positive mood, and making them more respective to message arguments. Although music’s role in marketing is an increasingly understand subject, a few recent studies have begun to demonstrate the roles that music performs. Music is an unconditional stimulus in an effort to influence experimental subjects’ preference.

Sex Appeals: Sex appeals in advertising are often explicit. The use of explicit sex was unthinkable just a few years ago, it now represents part of a new trend toward more sexually explicit advertising. Sexual explicitness is prevalent and overt in some countries. Whether such advertising is effective and under what conditions it may be effective remain largely unexplored issues. Complicating the matter is the fact that sex in advertising actually takes two forms: nudity and suggestiveness. It is uncertain which form is more effective. There are several potential roles. First, sexual material in advertising acts as an initial attentional lure and also holds attention for a longer period, given that the models are attractive or the scene is pleasant. This is called the “stopping power” role of sex. A second potential role is to enhance recall. Sexual content or symbolism will enhance recall only if it is appropriate to the product category and the creative advertising execution. Sexual appeals produce significantly better recall only if the advertising execution has an appropriate relationship with the advertised product. A third role performed by sexual content in advertising is to evoke emotional response such as feelings of attraction or even lust.

Subliminal Messages: the word subliminal refers to the presentation of stimuli at a rate or level that is below the conscious threshold of awareness. Stimuli that cannot be perceived by the conscious senses may nonetheless be perceived subconsciously. This possibility has generated considerable concern from advertising critics and has fostered much speculation from researchers.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Leadership of Change


Despite the enormous attention paid to popular management literature, the importance of leadership in change management cannot be over-emphasized. Research has shown that many change programs fail because they lack commitment and support from the top management. While effective change management requires credible and visible leadership in all the phases, it is crucial in the execution phase. Large-scale, organization-wide change efforts require sustained efforts and the role of leadership is to ensure momentum for the change effort. Contrary to popular belief, organizational change does not necessarily require charismatic leadership. It does require different leadership roles for the different tasks. The key idea here is that change management require different leadership roles.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Thinking Flexibility


You have to sell the flexibility of the structure to the people who work for you, and the only way to do this is by deeds rather than words. Your employees have to see the tangible proof not only that the structure is flexible but that the flexibility works to their advantage and their self-interest.

People within the structure should also feel flexibility. They should know that they are going to try out good ideas, no matter who thought of them, no matter how directly or indirectly these ideas applied to their division or their specific areas of responsibilities. They also need to know that if someone came up with a good workable idea was not simply going to be handed over to someone else. Whoever conceived it it would be involved in its execution.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Challenges of Execution


A successful change effort requires: a) adequate appreciation and planning, b) sufficient support by employees, c) competent execution by managers, and d) change managers with appropriate skill sets and capabilities. Less than one-third of all organizational change efforts are successful in producing anticipated results. There are eight reasons for this low success rate. Organizations that fail to produce results after undertaking change do so because managers in these organizations do not:

  1. establish a sense of urgency among employees;
  2. form a powerful guiding coalition for implementing change;
  3. create a powerful vision to energize employees;
  4. communicate their vision effectively to employees;
  5. empower employees to act on their vision;
  6. plan for and create short-term wins;
  7. consolidate improvements and produce still more change; and
  8. institutionalize new approaches.

The first four reasons deal with appreciating change and mobilizing support and the last reason relates to creating capability for change. Remaining three reasons concern the implementation of change. There are three prerequisites to effective execution of change, relating to empowerment, motivation, and consolidation.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Causes of New Product Failure


Many new products with satisfactory potential have failed to make the grade. Many of the reasons for new product failure relate to execution and control problems. The following is a brief list of some important causes of new product failures after they have been carefully screened, developed and marketed.

  1. No competitive point of differene, unexpected reactions from competitors, or both.
  2. Poor positioning.
  3. Poor quality of product.
  4. Nondelivery of promised benefits of product.
  5. Too little marketing support.
  6. Poor perceived prices/quality (value) relationship.
  7. Faulty estimates of market potential and other marketing research mistakes.
  8. Faulty estimates of production and marketing costs.
  9. Improper channels of distribution selected.
  10. Rapid change in the market (economy) after the product was introduced.

 Some of these problems are beyond the control of management; but it is clear that successful new product planning requires large amounts of reliable information in diverse areas. Each department assigned functional responsibility for product development automatically becomes an input to the information system needed by the new product decision maker. For example, when a firm is developing a new product, it is wise for both engineers and marketers to consider both the kind of market to be entered (e.g., consumer, organizational, international) and specific target segments. These decisions will be of paramount influence on the design and cost of the finished good, which will, of course, directly influence, price, sales, and profits.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Commitment to Plan


Management commitment to plan is a difficult concept to define and probably the most difficult area to probe. At the same time, it is in many respects the most crucial area. A deep-rooted sense of commitment is why certain management teams are able to overcome all obstacles and still achieve planned results. It is the same ingredient that enables a team to win against tough competition even though their best players are injured or all the breaks in the game go against them.

Without attempting to be a psychologist, there are several things to look for to determine whether this sense of commitment exists. What has been the track record of those submitting the plan? It is a positive sign if they have a history of fulfilling commitments. Conversely, if the group has not met its commitments in the past, it is essential to find out what has changed to make their commitment to the current plan any more meaningful. Is this evidence that individuals understand how a failure to meet their personal or functional commitments would jeoperdize the ability of the whole group to accomplish its plan? Is there any indication that anyone in the group feels that function has overcommitted or that they have been pressured into making commitments that are unrealistic?

 It is unikely that anyone will admit they are not committed to a plan they developed and recommend. But questions directed to each functional area about the certainty or difficulty of achieving their part of the plan help everyone see what musdt be done to successfully implement the plan. Such questioning helps to establish the importance of each individual’s personal commitments not only to the plan but to the rest of the organization. In a sense, it helps to develop a form of peer pressure, which is just as important in the execution of the business plan as it is in other walks of life. No one enjoys being in the position of having let teammates down.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Balancing Positive and Negative Motivational Considerations


If a strategy implementer’s motivational approach and reward structure includes too much stress, internal competitiveness, and job insecurity, the results can be counterproductive. The prevailing view is that manager’s push for strategy implementation should be more positive than negative because when cooperation is positively enlisted and rewarded, rather than strong-armed by a boss’s orders, people tend to respond with more enthusiasm, effort, creativity, and initiative. Yet it is unwise to completely eliminate pressure for performance and the anxiety it evokes. There is no evidence that a no-pressure work environment leads to superior strategy execution or sustained high performance. There is a deliberate policy to create a level of anxiety. Winners usually play like they’re one touchdown behind. High performing organizations need ambitious people who relish the opportunity to climb the ladder of success, love a challenge, thrive in a performance-oriented environment, and find some competition and pressure useful to satisfy their own drives for personal recognition, accomplishment, and self satisfaction. Unless compensation, career, and job satisfaction consequences are tied to successfully implementing strategic initiatives and hitting strategic performance targets, few people will attach much significance to the company’s vision, objectives, and strategy.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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